CONSOLATION PRIZE : After twin setbacks,Senas Jadhav elected Mayor
After back-to back defeats in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections,the Shiv Sena scored the best consolation win it could have hoped for,retaining the prize post of Mayor in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation,the countrys richest civic body.
Four-term Sena corporator Shraddha Jadhav,backed by the BJP,gained a clear majority to become the citys 73rd mayor. The MNS and the Samjawadi Party were absent from the elections,denting the Congress-NCPs hopes of a last minute miracle. In any case,the combined strength of the MNS and the Samajwadi Party,13,would not have overcome Jadhavs victory margin of 19 votes.
Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray went to the civic headquarters to wish Jadhav and toasted the victory as an important one. Every win is important but we wanted this success for the people of Mumbai, he said. The celebrations outside the BMC are huge and even the Congress has not managed such a show of strength and revelry anywhere after winning the Assembly elections.
Voting involved raising of hands and Jadhav won 114 votes against Congress rival candidate Priscila Kadams 95. The BJPs Shailaja Girkar became Deputy Mayor with 112 votes against NCP candidate Vidya Chavans 94.
The election was not without problems for the Sena,which faced a last-minute rebellion with five corporators going missing and refusing to accept the party whip. Party leaders admitted they had been tense till the eve of voting. Versova corporator Chhaya Bhanji,who had apparently vanished for 48 hours and prompted her son to file a complaint with the police,eventually turned up and voted. She had gone for a wedding without informing her family,she said; there was no question of rebellion as she is a staunch Sena supporter.
Kandivli corporator Kshitija Pujari and Snehal Jadhav of Dadar,who had appeared to be untraceable the previous day,also surfaced and voted Sena. So did the Akhil Bharatiya Senas Geeta and Vandana Gawli,who had sparked rumours of possible cross-voting after tying up with the Congresss Rane group.
Uddhav Thackeray said most of the Sena-BJP corporators remained loyal to the party.
The Samajwadi Partys seven corporators objected to the elections and walked out during the poll process. The six MNS members did not turn out.
Shiv Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe rubbished the idea that the Congress ever had even the slightest chance of winning. We were never apprehensive despite the Congresss hopes of a possible miracle. They were depending on money and muscle power to woo independents,the SP and MNS corporators,and some of the Sena. The Shiv Sena remained intact due to Balasaheb (Thackeray) and emerged victorious.
Congress leader Rajhans Singh said it was the Sena who had bought Samajwadi Party candidates and made them skip voting. The Samajwadi Party usually stay away from fundamental parties but they supported the Sena in a way by not allying with us. The MNS,which is also an enemy of the Sena,helped them by remaining absent. This was indeed a miracle, he said.